What is back pain?
Back pain might affect your upper back (thoracic spine), but it’s more common in your lower back (lumbar spine). Neck pain in the cervical spine is also a significant issue.
You could experience different kinds of back pain, from a sharp pain that shoots down an arm or leg to a constant dull ache. Acute back pain is typically due to an injury and should improve after a few weeks with care.
Chronic back pain continues for over three months. It may develop from an acute injury that hasn’t healed properly or be due to a chronic degenerative condition. Sometimes back pain results from conditions like spinal tumors, or you may be born with a condition that causes back pain.
What are some common causes of back pain?
Common causes of back pain include:
- Muscle or tendon strains
- Ligament sprains
- Herniated or bulging discs
- Facet joint arthritis
- Degenerative disc disease
- Spinal stenosis
- Vertebral compression fractures
- Sacroiliac joint dysfunction
Radiculopathy results from nerve damage or compression in your spine. It’s one of the primary causes of back pain because many of the conditions that affect your spine are responsible for nerve compression.
For example, a herniated disc or other cause of spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal) puts pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing lumbar radiculopathy — better known as sciatica.
How is back pain treated?
The Vital Orthopedic & Spine Institute team begins your back pain treatment after completing a thorough physical exam and a review of your medical history and symptoms. They also look at the results of diagnostic imaging tests like X-rays and CT or MRI scans. Based on what they find, they might include treatments, such as:
- Activity modification
- Heat and ice
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Physical therapy
- Trigger point injections
- Epidural corticosteroid injections
- Facet joint injections
- Nerve blocks
- Platelet-rich plasma therapy
- Stem cell injections
- Radiofrequency ablation
For most people with back pain, noninvasive treatments are highly effective. However, if you’re not improving with these treatments or you have a significant injury, the Vital Orthopedic & Spine Institute team might need to perform surgery.
What does surgery for back pain involve?
Wherever possible, the Vital Orthopedic & Spine Institute team uses minimally invasive spine surgery techniques to resolve your back pain. They might perform discectomy (removal of a damaged disc) followed by fusion or artificial disc replacement.
Another option is spinal decompression — making more room for your nerves by widening the spinal canal. Back pain due to sacroiliac joint dysfunction could benefit from the advanced SI-BONE® iFuse Implant System®.
If your back pain is causing you problems, call Vital Orthopedic & Spine Institute today or book an appointment online.